In college, all anybody expects from you is the bare minimum requirements. Students and faculty alike talk about things like going to class and studying for tests as if they are great achievements, not the obvious facts of life that they have been for you. Do not get lulled into a false sense of security. You are well prepared for this, and very smart, but just because others seem to expect you to be lazy does not mean that you can get away with being lazy.
I truly believe that the student knows what's best. There's a feeling you get when you step on to the campus you belong on that no one else can feel. I would say to trust your instincts and know what it is you want, why you want it, and how to get it. Don't be afraid to go somewhere different or to break away from friends and family tradition. College is the most important 4 years of your life and it should really be a decision taken seriously.
While college has taught me many things, my biggest take away is learning to be open to new experiences. Trying new things and putting yourself out there are essential to discovering what you love and ultimately want to do with the rest of your life. It is commonly said that college is, "the best four years of your life." You get to choose how you want to spend those years but to really make the most out of them requires taking some chances.
College will be the most memorable 4 years of you or your son or daughter's life. Visit campuses to see if you want to be there for four years but most importantly make sure the college has what you're looking for academically. Make sure the college is flexible with major changes as well. Not many people graduate from college with a degree in what they thought they wanted to do freshman year.
If a student isn't happy at their college, that student won't be successful at that college. Don't focus solely on the prestige of a college because that alone won't make a student happy. Concentrate on the type of people, type of campus, type of classes, and type of extracurricular and social activities that college has. There's no point in making a home at a place you hate for four years.
I definately think that it is in your best interest to visit the schools, attend classes, and know what you are looking for. Get as much experience at the school you are choosing as you can, before you make a final decision. If you know what you want to study, go to the school with the best program. But above all, make sure you can be happy wherever you go.
If the prospective student is looking strictly for academics, stop right there. When one is looking for a college to suit their needs, remember to look at the social aspect as well as where it is located, i.e., near a city, in the suburbs, in the country, etc. Don't, don't, don't only look for the academic nature of the school.
I would tell students to visit the schools to which they apply and to see if they can see themselves going there. It is all about whether or not you feel comfortable at a certain school. When you are at college you should get involved in clubs and organizations that you have never tried before and try new things.
When you find the school right for you, you will feel it as you tour. Once you're there, make the absolute most of it. Try things new to you, take risks, have a blast. Study, but don't let class rule your life. You don't have class on the weekends for a reason. Don't forget to breathe.
Do a lot of research not only on the school, but on the specific department you are majoring in. Figure out how much of the school's budget goes to funding that program and if there are any professors whose research is aligned with your interests for potential research opportunities.